We love hearing from our Marry Me Tampa Bay brides and were so excited to receive Ashley and Emilo’s downtown Tampa wedding in our inbox.
“Marry Me Tampa Bay gave me inspiration while we were planning our wedding, and we hope that it’ll do the same for future brides,” Ashley explained.
The bride and groom, born and raised in Tampa, dubbed their downtown wedding, “truly the essence of Tampa Bay.”
“If we had to describe our wedding, we’d probably say ‘historic Tampa love.’ The wedding was in an historic catholic church and the reception was in an old bank building, complete with the old vault. As the party formally ended, guests were chauffeured to the Tampa Club for the after party. Each detail was chosen to help our guests fall in love with our great city,” the bride gushed. “To pay homage to our own families, we incorporated hidden messages. My grandmother used to work at a cigar company in Ybor City, so a cigar roller was brought in. My father also allowed us to borrow his 1949 Buick, which is a similar replica to the car she used to drive around town. The letter ‘S,’ made out of dahlias, honored the Emilo’s grandmother, Dahlia, who came to Tampa from Cuba.”
The couple married at the same location as the groom’s parents did, exactly one year from their proposal date, and held their downtown Tampa wedding reception just a block away at The Vault.
“Many will probably find this unusual, but we booked The Vault without even taking a step inside. My father and stepmom, who had attended several charity events there, recommended it due to its historical significance and proximity to the church,” Ashley explained. “We fell in love with our reception space after learning it was revitalized from The Exchange National Bank constructed in 1923. The character and modern elegance it possessed was absolutely breathtaking. We took a leap of faith and had no regrets. The Vault is an amazing space, and we feel blessed it was apart of the happiest day of our lives!”
Emilo is a third generation firefighter for the City of Tampa, which was a prevalent theme throughout the wedding.
“We incorporated a handheld fire truck for the ring bearer instead of a pillow. The Cake Zone did a phenomenal job in creating a groom’s cake replicating his personal firefighters helmet and I had a personalized axe for cutting made as a keepsake,” the bride shared. “His station even brought the ladder truck to the church so that we could take pictures as Mr. and Mrs.”
What did you look for in bridesmaid dress shop?
I was extremely open-minded going into the process; the color was my only request. I had first heard about Bella Bridesmaid through previous brides and made an appointment due to the large amount of options they had. Every bridesmaid dress shopping experience should have a friendly, helpful staff like Bella’s. It was an easy process overall. There are several locations across the country. I had bridesmaids in California, New York, Georgia and Florida.
Emilio whisked me away for a surprise getaway weekend at the Harrington House Beachfront Bed and Breakfast on Anna Maria Island. After having a gourmet breakfast overlooking the ocean, we spent the entire day soaking up the sun on the beach and enjoying each other’s company. For dinner, Emilio made reservations at my favorite restaurant, The Columbia Restaurant, in St. Armands Circle. Unknown to me, Matthew (Best Man), Kelsey (Maid Of Honor) and Allison (Bridesmaid) had arrived while we were at dinner and were setting up a romantic message in the sand.
Emilio asked to go for a walk on the beach to watch the sunset. Our friends were already hiding in the bushes, getting stuck by sand spurs and being eaten alive, waiting to capture the surprise on camera. As we strolled along the beach hand-in-hand watching the sunset, we came upon a giant heart in the sand that said, “Will you Marry Me, Ashley?” Instantly, tears of happiness came streaming out of my eyes. This was THE MOMENT! Emilio got down on his knee and asked for my hand in marriage. I just kept crying tears of joy. I always knew he was the one, and then he officially was.
What were the deciding factors for choosing your wedding venue?
Many will probably find this unusual, but we booked The Vault without even taking a step inside. My father and stepmom, who had attended several charity events at The Vault, recommended it due to its historical significance and its proximity to the church. We fell in love with our reception space after learning it was revitalized from The Exchange National Bank constructed in 1923. The character and modern elegance it possessed was absolutely breathtaking. We took a leap of faith and had no regrets. The Vault is an amazing space, and we feel blessed it was apart of the happiest day of our lives!
How would you describe your theme?
If we had to describe our wedding, we’d probably say “historic Tampa love.” The colors became a soft vintage feel, while the decorations embodied all that was classic Tampa. We incorporated past and present photos of our venues as well as old Tampa postcards carefully placed on our card mailbox. The smell of freshly rolled cigars as guests entered the reception led to the Cigar City Shooter shot during the toast. The wedding was in an historic catholic church and the reception was in an old bank building, complete with the old vault. As the party formally ended, guests were chauffeured to the Tampa Club for the after party. Each detail was chosen to help our guests fall in love with our great city. Our entire wedding day was everything that we could have ever wanted and more!
What were your colors?
Blush and champagne. We wanted something soft, since it was an afternoon reception in springtime. Plus, pink is my favorite color.
What did you look for in a wedding caterer?
There were two main concerns the father-of-the-bride had: the food had to be hot and the bar had to be top shelf. Emilio and I focused on a company that was customizable, detailed and definitely delivered hot food!
On our engagement night, we ordered our favorites from The Columbia Restaurant. I chowed down in the Pollo Riojana, while Emilio devoured a plate of Ropa Vieja. We wanted someone to take these classic Cuban dishes and add a classy, modern twist. Chef Anthony from StoneChef Catering recreated our favorite dishes combined on one plate. We signed on the dotted line after falling in love with StoneChef’s world class food tasting.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay Brides?
Do not let the planning overshadow the person you’re marrying. While it’s easy to get swept up in to-do lists, there are ways to make sure the process does not overwhelm you or put a strain on your relationships. The Mr. and I decided to designate time for wedding talk, so it didn’t consume our lives. We also kept up with our favorite activates, especially working out, date nights, etc. and delegated tasks to our families.
Ceremony Location: Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Reception Venue: The Vault *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Venue
Photographer: Jaimee Ponce Photography
Florist & Linen Rentals: Geoffrey’s Floral Design
Caterer: StoneChef Events & Catering
Cake: The Cake Zone
Harpist: Breezin’ Entertainment
DJ: Wild Out Entertainment
Dress: The White Magnolia Bridal Collection
Hairpiece: Sara Gabriel
Earrings & Bracelets: Haute Bride
Garter: La Gartier
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaid Dress Shop and Designer: Bella Bridesmaids *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Vendor
Hair: New Identities Hair Studio
Makeup: L.A.C Makeup Art
Groomsmen’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse
Photo Booth: Tampa Bay Photo Booths
Accommodations: Le Meridien Tampa
After Party: The Tampa Club *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Venue